Whether you are battling injuries, off the field issues, team chemistry, a change in team philosophy, or just need a change of scene. Every team needs them, the slump buster.
In baseball if you are a pitching staff with woes there is the Atlanta Braves. In basketball if your team is having trouble there is the Philadelphia 76ers. And in the NFL if anything at all is wrong with your team you can count on a game against the Cleveland Browns to make you feel better and bust your slump, giving your team the confidence it needs.
Recently the St. Louis Blues were in desperate need of a slump buster. And the Blues may have found it in their schedule, home. The Blues will play 11 of their next 15 games at home and kicked off that stretch with wins on back to back nights to extend their home record this year to 5-1 with one shootout loss. The Blues were coming into this home stand off back to back losses in which they were out scored 11-2. In a season full of change, they needed one more change.
And that change came with the familiarity of returning home. The 2016-17 season soundtrack should probably be Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A Changin’. Head Coach Ken Hitchcock has already announced this will be his last year behind the bench for the Blues, they have head coach in waiting Mike Yeo on the staff, they lost several prominent veterans in David Backes, Brian Elliott, Steve Ott, and Troy Brouwer, they are implementing a new system of play. With all of the changes the return home can be the team’s slump buster.
They should now be able to work on the new style of play during practices without having to adjust times because of travel, or worrying about being tired. The new system is exciting to watch but this is something new for them. Although the Blues’ style of play has been entertaining to watch with them ripping shots from all angles rather than trying to set up for the perfect shot like in the past; this is still a new system. They need to practice it and work on it. As exciting as it is to see Alex Pieterangelo hit Paul Stastny on a quick outlet pass, just imagine once the players get used to the quicker pace and developing a type of chemistry that we have seen glimpses of on their quick connection passes.
With the return home they can also feed off the energy from the fans, boosting their confidence. We saw them earlier this week falter in New York, with an abysmal 5-0 loss. It seemed as though they had no energy. They fell behind early and although they out shot the Rangers in the game it was a common thread that has shown as of late, lack of teamwork. The Blues may be out shooting their opponents but the offense has been lacking. That comes from not working with each other. And when the Blues are struggling, the fans’ energy at the rink should ideally energize the team.
It is that spark of energy at home that has already shown itself to be key in this home stand. The Blues scored first in both games this weekend, winning both games. Today, against the Avalanche, the Blues scored in the first period for the first time in seven games. Do you know what the Blues record is this season when scoring first? It is now 6-1-2, when they don’t score first it is 1-3. Scoring first is key for this team right now. And the energy from the fans can help the team come out fired up.
During the next 15 games for the Blues they will host top teams like the Blackhawks and Capitals in addition to traditional nemesis’ the Stars and Sharks. This portion of the schedule comes at the perfect time for the Blues; like when a desperately lonely man is seeking out some comfort at 3 in the morning and spots a similarly situated woman across the room. The Blues need to build their confidence and nothing does that quite as perfectly as home sweet home.